Who should you listen to? The measles outbreak…more opinions!
We are responsible to protect our own children, but also the children who are not our own and vulnerable…
The measles outbreak is still in the news….many different people have weighed in on the subject. My caution to you is the same as always….remember the source. Ask yourself, is this person an expert in the field? Is he or she making statements that are supported by scientific fact? Is this a scientific opinion, or just an opinion? I must say that I become very frustrated when people speak out against vaccines without an ounce of scientific support in what they are saying. I was a little more than frustrated as I yelled at my car radio the other morning as I listened to the immunization question become a political dialog. I think it is sad that parents of newborns are asking me….”Should I be worried about my baby getting the measles if I travel this next week?” “How can I protect my baby who is not old enough to be vaccinated?” The measles vaccine is almost 100% effective….we should not be having this conversation! These children should be protected by all of us receiving our vaccines on time. This measles outbreak should simply not have happened. In 2000 measles were declared eradicated in the U.S. We are now seeing this disease in 2015 because of people ignoring scientific data and recommendations and a few high-profile people who speak out without knowledge of true facts and use fear to misinform parents. We are now seeing children who are too young to be vaccinated and those children who are the most vulnerable; children who are being treated for childhood cancer or have received organ transplants, being put at risk. We as a community should feel responsible to protect all of our children! This is about doing the right thing. The fact is, those who choose to NOT vaccinate are depending on those of us who DO vaccinate to protect their children. So now what? First parents, we should not live in fear…here are a few facts.
- Babies under 6 months of age.
Your baby should be protected by the antibodies you passed to your baby before birth. Your MMR vaccine will help protect your baby along with the antibodies you pass to your baby if you are breastfeeding. Remember, the vaccine schedule has been studied…the age your child receives certain vaccines is the age that your child’s passive immunity is no longer effective. If a vaccine is given when those maternal antibodies are still present…a baby will not make his or her own antibodies. The vaccine would not be effective.
- Babies over 6 months of age.
The recommended age for the first MMR vaccine is 12 months. Children between 6 months and a year have less passive antibodies from birth but it is still not recommended for them to receive an early dose of the MMR unless you are traveling outside the country or the recommendation changes if this U.S. outbreak becomes an epidemic. If your child receives an MMR before the age of 1, he or she will still have to receive another at age 1 and a second booster.
- Should you worry if you are traveling in the U.S.?
The fact is that the U.S. has good vaccination rates; more than 90% are vaccinated against measles. Unless there is an epidemic outbreak in this country, you are safe to go about your normal activities with a child who is too young to be vaccinated. If you live in or are traveling to a county that has had multiple cases of measles, then you might think about staying away from people you don’t know with coughs or letting strangers hold or hover over your baby. There are pockets of unvaccinated children across the country. We do know that when a vaccination rate falls below 95% of the population, there is a risk of an outbreak of disease. Some of the areas where there are outbreaks we know that the vaccination level is hovering below that level. Call your local health department, call your local school…what is your area’s vaccination rate?
So, the conversation continues. If we listen to scientific evidence, keep in mind that we are protecting our own children and the most vulnerable children in our society, and realize that these diseases we can protect our children from are still around…we will do the right thing. We will vaccinate our children. We need to be the voice of reason and we need to be as vocal as the anti-vaccine movement. Stand up for protection of our children and other vulnerable children because it is the right and responsible thing to do.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.